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Human moon, Mars colony: Why boldly go when you can boldly speculate?


Canadarm2 Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield believes that humans will live on the moon within thirty to forty years:

Commander Chris Hadfield, who captured the public’s imagination by tweeting thousands of pictures from space and recording David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ at zero gravity, has predicted that a lunar base will be fully functional within his lifetime.

And within the next 70 years, he believes we could establish a base on Mars.

Commander Hadfield, 54, believes both goals are the next logical steps in human exploration.

This might happen, but as things stand it probably won’t be Canadians—or Americans—doing it.

China is setting its sights on moon exploration and India on Mars, to which it has sent a probe (fourth country to do so, and first Asian one).

Canada mirrors the United States in this area. Once best recognized in space exploration for the Space Shuttle’s Canadarm, it now hosts the Perimeter Institute, a centre for speculation in cosmology—fun but not the same thing.

Why boldly go when you can boldly speculate? And so much of the speculation these days seems aimed at avoiding evidence like the Big Bang and fine tuning, in favour of multiverses and many worlds.

Maybe we can’t have both.

It is a struggle to maintain ISS. There isn't enough funding to even maintain equipment that we already have. It is highly improbable that any country will make enough sorties to study, built and equip structures in moon any time soon. Forget Mars. selvaRajan
All good points to consider. But if we care, it would be better to plan to go than sit around wondering why the space aliens haven't landed yet. Maybe us is them. Or that was supposed to be the idea anyway (?). News
Not to put a damper on 'boldly going' to another planet, but there might be a few technical details they have overlooked as to ever 'boldly staying' on another planet. The 'biogeochemical foundation' for a 'friendly environment' that is hospitable for man to live in, for an extended period of time, is far more difficult to maintain than most people seem to realize. This 'minor' ecology problem was highlighted by Biosphere 2.
Biosphere 2 – What Went Wrong? Excerpt: Other Problems Biosphere II’s water systems became polluted with too many nutrients. The crew had to clean their water by running it over mats of algae, which they later dried and stored. Also, as a symptom of further atmospheric imbalances, the level of dinitrogen oxide became dangerously high. At these levels, there was a risk of brain damage due to a reduction in the synthesis of vitamin B12. http://biology.kenyon.edu/slonc/bio3/2000projects/carroll_d_walker_e/whatwentwrong.html
These following sites have illustrations that shows some of the interdependent, ‘life-enabling’, biogeochemical complexity of the different types of bacterial life on Earth.,,,
Biologically mediated cycles for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and iron – image of interdependent ‘biogeochemical’ web http://www.sciencemag.org/content/320/5879/1034/F2.large.jpg Microbial Mat Ecology – Image on page 92 (third page down) http://www.dsls.usra.edu/biologycourse/workbook/Unit2.2.pdf The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles - Falkowski 2008 Excerpt: Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. - Paul G. Falkowski - Professor Geological Sciences - Rutgers http://www.genetics.iastate.edu/delong1.pdf
for an example of how finely tuned this 'balanced ecology' is:
Engineering and Science Magazine - Caltech - March 2010 Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “...every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.” http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev201003.htm#20100316a Planet's Nitrogen Cycle Overturned - Oct. 2009 Excerpt: Archaea therefore not only play a role, but are central to the planetary nitrogen cycles on which all life depends.,,,the organism can survive on a mere whiff of ammonia – 10 nanomolar concentration, equivalent to a teaspoon of ammonia salt in 10 million gallons of water." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930132656.htm
Also of note, the Moon and Mars are not nearly as hospitable for life as most people seem to imagine:
Our Poisonous Moon: Better from a Distance - July, 2012 Excerpt: Even if the dust problems could be overcome, the moon remains unprotected from solar UV radiation, the solar wind, solar flares, micrometeorites and high-energy cosmic rays. The authors listed 34 remaining “knowledge gaps” about lunar toxicity. If any of these (many suspected to be high to very high risk) were to prove serious, it might cause a reconsideration of the wisdom of sending humans to the moon for extended stays. Since some of the risks apply to Mars as well (and since the moon would probably be a training base), these findings could put a damper on hopes for manned missions to Mars. http://crev.info/2012/07/our-poisonous-moon/ Early Mars Water Was Salty, Toxic Stew – 2008 Excerpt: But data from the rover Opportunity is already suggesting that water on early Mars billions of years ago may have been fit for pickling—not supporting—life. That’s because the water was thick with salt and other minerals, making it far too briny for life as we know it, according to a new study. Nicholas Tosca of Harvard University and colleagues studied mineral clues from the surface of Mars sent back by the rover and used computers to turn back the clock. “Our sense has been that while Mars is a lousy environment for supporting life today, long ago it might have more closely resembled Earth,” said Andrew Knoll, a study co-author also from Harvard. But instead the team found that the soil’s mineral content would have made that liquid a salty, toxic stew. “No matter how far back we peer into Mars’s history, we may never see a point at which the planet really looked like Earth,” Knoll said. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/05/080529-mars-salty.html

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